Welcome to Newport’s Real Estate Resource

01 Jul
July 1, 2014
Bellevue Ave, Newport RI

Bellevue Ave, Newport RI

Come visit often for all things Newport – our aim is to provide useful links, a calendar of great local events, and easy access to Newport, Rhode Island’s real estate scene, plus articles about living in this fabulous city as well as helpful home ownership tips.  Have an idea?  Let us know!

 

The Dying Dining Room

12 Dec
December 12, 2014

20wickham07201419LRThe dining room isn’t what it used to be . . . Luxury home owners are ahead of the game when it comes to design and home improvement trends, and one in particular that is making waves is the foregoing of the traditional Dining Room.

Even during large holiday gatherings, fewer people are having the traditional sit down dinner anymore, and the kitchen is the more popular gathering spot during dinner parties.  Many homeowners are now transforming this neglected space into a room that fits their lifestyles, interests, and needs.  The WSJ recently featured an article on this very subject, highlighting homeowners who converted this space into more useful and sometime very extravagant alternatives.  We’re talking entertainment lounges, libraries, yoga studios, art galleries, music studios – rooms designed to enhance the lifestyle of their owners.

One couple turned their dining room into a relaxation mecca, bridging the indoor space with the vineyards in their Napa backyard.  Another turned his 1,200 sf dining room into what he calls a “living pavilion” – an area boating a 15 foot fireplace and decorated with one of a kind sculptures, copper chandeliers, and a grand piano.

These grand rooms fall in line with many recent trends luxury homeowners have been following.  A survey sponsored by Better Homes & Gardens on the interests and habits of high-end owners, found that many are choosing to invest in their homes instead of the stock market.  Just what are these trends?  Eighty-seven percent want a technology friendly residence. with two-thirds preferring a ‘smart home’ over a green one.  Basically they want easy access and convenience – they want to turn up the A/C with their I-phones from their cars.

While the dining room and family meals aren’t quite obsolete, this trend re-purposing this space for other uses is something to consider and watch for.  What would you do with some spare square footage?

Motion Sensor Lighting: Safety and Security Indoors and Out

28 Oct
October 28, 2014

Adding motion sensor lighting in and around your house provides an automated, hands-free way to turn on lights when you need them, and off when you don’t.  Motion sensor lights are eager helpers and good little guardians. They illuminate the way to your front door when you pull into your driveway, light hallways when you get up in the middle of the night, and turn on lamps when you enter a room.

They also provide safety and home security by powering up exterior floodlights should someone attempt to trespass when it’s dark outside.  In addition, they watch over your budget, dutifully turning themselves off after you’ve entered your home or left a room—saving you money on energy bills. Light-sensing diodes prevent them from switching on during daylight hours.

Plug-and-play lighting solutions

Many motion sensor lights don’t require elaborate setups or wiring; they simply plug into any wall outlet. Battery-operated types can be mounted onto your walls using adhesives, magnets, or screws.  Sylvania’s LED Motion Sensor Light runs off batteries, is easy to install in any room, and is especially handy for small spaces, such as closets. Cost: $13.

Put a sensor on anything

Have a lamp in your living room you want to turn on automatically when you walk in? The SensorPlug Motion Sensor Outlet Plug from Andev plugs into any standard wall outlet. In addition to lamps, you can use it with equipment that doesn’t exceed 500 watts, such as fans and radios. The SensorPlug Motion Sensor Outlet Plug costs between $10 and $20.

Sun power

If your home gets ample sunlight during the day, install a solar-powered light and avoid the need to do any wiring. Designed for the outdoors, the Solar Security with Motion Detector from Concept helps you save money by not tapping into your home’s electricity.  It uses 32 long-lasting LED lamps, providing bright illumination for places like your driveway and front door. Since only sunlight is needed to recharge the battery, you can attach it anywhere on your property, such as the far end of your yard.

Overhead detection

You can easily add a motion sensor to an existing overhead light fixture by adding adaptive devices, such as the Motion Sensing Light Socket from First Alert.  Simply screw the motion-sensing light socket into an existing wall or ceiling fixture and add a 25- to 100-watt light bulb. Some motion-detection light sockets won’t support energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs, but for rooms that are infrequently used, such as an unfinished basement, it’s a quick solution.

Home automation sensors

Home automation systems, such as those based on X10 and Z-Wave technology, are great for controlling your thermostat and home entertainment center, but they also are useful for home security purposes. Linked to motion sensor lights, your home automation system can send a signal to have lights turned on when triggered by a timer or by your smartphone.  The HomeSeer HSM100 sensor is available for Z-Wave systems for $74, and the Eagle Eye Indoor/Outdoor Motion Sensor costs between $18 and $30.

Read more at HouseLogic

How to ‘Drive’ Curb Appeal

03 Sep
September 3, 2014

Whether you’re a homeowner or Realtor® selling a home, it makes no difference – everyone wants a house that looks great from the curb. Curb appeal comes together when all the elements of a home’s facade are in good shape and working together. Driveways that are cracked or pitted with potholes, dingy front doors and shabby, scuffed mailboxes can all significantly detract from a home’s overall curb appeal. Here is a handful of projects – many of them quick fixes – that can greatly enhance a home’s appearance for a quick sell.

Repair or resurface your driveway

Driveway1For many homes, the driveway is one of the largest visual elements of the home’s overall curb appeal, ranking right up there with siding, the roof and the lawn. Concrete can crack and crumble, and asphalt develops potholes. Both can be repaired quickly and easily.

For any driveway repair, make sure the area to be repaired has been cleaned of debris and loose materials. Cleaning with a hose or pressuring washing can improve the entire surface.

Concrete driveways can develop different types of cracks: very small and shallow resembling a dry river bed; cracks between 1/8 and 1/4 inch wide; and cracks wider and deeper than 1/4 inch. Your choice of repair method will depend on how you want the finished product to look and how much time you have to make the repair.

Spruce up your mailbox

It sits at the end of your driveway and often plays a key role in helping guests find your house. Little things can mean a lot when it comes to creating curb appeal. While a mailbox that looks good might not get much attention, one that’s ugly or shabby is sure to draw the kind of attention you don’t want.

If you’re in a community that restricts the type of mailbox you can have, simply give your rusted, stained mailbox and the post it sits on a fresh coat of paint in its original color. If your community has no standards for mailboxes, you can swap out an ordinary looking box with something that compliments your exterior design. Does your home have a brick facade? Consider a mailbox set in or on a brick pillar. If your house features fieldstone accents, consider carrying that over to the mailbox with a small, stone-trimmed planting bed at its base.

 

Give your front door some TLC

frontdoorThe door is the point where your exterior design meets your interior décor. It’s also an element that significantly impacts how visitors view your home. Give yours a fresh coat of paint or stain, and don’t forget the trim around the door.

Next, consider lighting. Is the area around the door well lit? Good lighting is key for safety at night and to enhance the appeal of the area. Consider sconces beside the door or an attractive overhead fixture if your door has an awning, porch or overhang. Ground lights can accent the effect, either illuminating the pathway that leads to the door or lighting up the door itself.

Finally, take a look at the door hardware. Is the handle or knob looking rusted and shabby? Replacing worn or dated door hardware is an easy, cost-effective way to improve the overall look of your entryway.

Source: RIS Media

 

 

Gustave White Steps Up to the Ice Bucket ALS Challenge

21 Aug
August 21, 2014

IceBucket sm1

A little teamwork on a beautiful Newport afternoon on Bellevue Avenue.
Video:  GWSIR Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS


Home Trends 2014 – What’s Hot, What’s Not

12 Jun
June 12, 2014

What’s “hot” in home interiors? Plenty of designers are offering up their predictions, and here’s one outlook from Neil Kelly Co., a remodeling firm based in Portland, Ore.

Embellished showers: Showers are becoming more popular than tubs, and one feature growing in popularity is the curb-less shower.

shower

 

 

 

 

 

Stand-alone bath tubs: For those home owners who still desire a bathtub, the free-standing tub is growing in demand. It takes up less space and also serves as a structural element to dress up a room.

U-sockets: These wall plugs have two built-in USB ports to power up devices, such as iPhones, digital cameras, tablets, and more. U-sockets also have a smart sensor that allows it to automatically shut off when the device is fully charged.

Seeing blue: Bright colors are “in,” particularly cobalt blue. Expect to see it more in the new year, even in the kitchen.

cobalt

 

 

 

 

 

More modest decor: The industrial modern decor look was big in 2013, but Neil Kelly Co. designers expect that style to be more “relaxed, classic, and modest” in 2014. Stone, metal, and wood will continue to be popular, but the designers expect that rounded designs with earth shades and raw metal finishes to become more prevalent in interiors in 2014.

More multigenerational features: More multigenerational features will be incorporated homes to help better accommodate more people living under one roof, such as aging parents and boomerang kids. For example, features like wall mounted sinks for wheelchairs, walk-in bathtubs, and motion sensing faucets are expected to grow in demand.

Eco-friendly cabinets: Earth-friendly cabinets that are chemical-free and do not have added formaldehyde and non-toxic glues, binders, and finishes will likely increase in popularity.

Dress Up the Laundry Room!

24 Apr
April 24, 2014

Untitled Capture-01Laundry rooms are an important part of the house for home buyers, but this space can often get overlooked when it comes to staging. After all, how much can you do to spruce up a washer & dryer, particularly if the laundry room is only a small room or even inside a closet?

But regardless of how much space your listing has, you’d be amazed at what a little staging can do to make buyers consider the laundry room a more inviting space and not just a dreaded space for chores.

A blog post by Laurie Turk with TipJunkie.com offers up several ideas of how to make the laundry room a more inviting space. Here are a few of her ideas:

Add storage: There are plenty of options, from cabinets, shelves, hanging rods, baskets, to drawers under the washer and dryer. Storage can be an important part of making a laundry room more functional and less cluttered. Home owners will want a place to tuck away all of those laundry supplies and a the space that leaves an impression as clean as the clothes coming out of the washer and dryer.

Create a folding station: Find a place for a countertop, such as over cabinets or even a countertop over the washer and dryer. If the room is large enough, you could even do a table or folding station island in the middle. If it’s smaller, a small table may suffice. But have an area devoted to folding clothes or at least big enough to store a laundry basket, besides the floor.

Enhance with color: Warm the laundry room up with a comforting color on the walls, such as a soft blue. Or, add a colorful rug or even a fun print – such as in damask — to an ironing board cover. If your listing’s laundry room is in a closet, add shelves above the washer and dryer and use wallpaper behind the shelves to dress it up, Turk suggests.

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Where to Spot the Snowy Owl Around Newport

13 Feb
February 13, 2014

For local bird watchers, this has been one of the best winters ever for spotting the snowy owl.

Shirley Lally, a volunteer at the refuge, told Newport Patch the birds, usually native to the Arctic region, have been moving south because the food supply in the Arctic region is down.  Other common names for the owl are the Arctic Owl, Great White Owl or Harfang. Although the bird’s native home is the circumpolar region, it is considered to be a nomadic species when fluctuations in its food source population force it relocate.

Lally said that despite the seaside location of the sightings, the bird does not feed from sea.  “They don’t dive for fish, they are not sea-birds,” said Lally. “They eat rodents and small animals. They are moving south, looking for food.”

On Thursday, Jan 9, the Born to be Wild Nature Center set free a snowy owl that was found injured at Quonset Point last month. On Sunday, it released another snowy owl back into the wild.  By mid March, the owl should make her way North and arrive back in the Artic in time for summer, according to the Born to be Wild Facebook page.

But the question remains, how can you spot this elusive owl around Newport, RI?  “Look around in the trees and ponds and in open areas near the ocean and look for anything out of the ordinary,” said Middletown resident Stephen P. Ford who frequently captures the owl on camera.

 

How to Downsize Your Stuff for a Move

14 Aug
August 14, 2013

How can you decide what to keep and what to toss when you move to a smaller space? Whittling down a lifetime’s worth of belongings for a move into a smaller home can be a difficult and emotional task. How can you decide what to keep and what to toss? Here are some things you can do to make the process easier:

Get an early startIf you wait until you’ve signed a contract on your new home, you’ll end up getting overwhelmed and tossing everything into boxes to take with you. So start going through your belongings as soon as you decide to move.

Work in concentric circlesStart in the rooms farthest from the heart of the home, such as the attic, basement, and storage rooms. That’s where there are more items that are simply being stored rather than used. Then move into the bedrooms, family room, and kitchen. Pack as you go through these rooms, and make separate piles of items you plan to sell, donate, and give to friends or relatives. Then get those items out of your home right away, so you won’t change your mind.

Involve your familyItems hold different meanings for various family members. You don’t want to save and store that box of toys from your daughter’s childhood only to find out later she doesn’t want them. You also don’t want to toss your son’s old baseball gear if it holds great sentimental value to him.

Ask yourself questionsIf you’re unsure about whether to keep an item, ask yourself when was the last time you used it, how often you use it, what purpose it serves, what shape it is in, etc.

Envision your new homeDetermine which pieces of furniture and other large items will fit in the new space, then sell or give away what you won’t have room for. Storing these large items in a monthly storage facility is costly. Items that were custom-made or specially purchased for your old space also may not transition well to your new place.

Determine the costWeigh the price you can get for selling an item against the cost of moving it. It may be better to buy something more suited to your new home with the money earned from a sale.

Consider contextIf you’re selling everything else a particular item fits in with, you might want to let it go. For example, if you’re saying goodbye to the couch, it might be time to part with the matching love seat.

Be kind to yourselfYou don’t have to get rid of everything you hold dear. If you’re really attached to an item and it would break your heart to let it go, keep it!

Sources: The Wall Street Journal

5 Reasons You Should Buy a Home NOW!

07 Feb
February 7, 2013

Many potential buyers are waiting until they can be 100% sure the real estate market has fully recovered before making the move to purchase a home. Here are five reasons why waiting might not make sense any longer:

1.) Prices Are on the Rise

The latest Case Shiller Home Price Index revealed that home prices have appreciated 5.5% over the last year. This is occurring across the nation as increases were reported in 19 of 20 metros. The Home Price Expectation Survey, which polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts, calls for continued appreciation over the next five years.

2.) Mortgage Interest Rates Are Expected to Increase

The Mortgage Bankers Association has predicted that, after reaching record lows in 2012, mortgage rates will creep up slowly in 2013 to 4.4%. Rates have already increased by 2/10 of a point (3.32 to 3.53) in the last two months.

3.) Rents Are Continuing to Skyrocket

Recently, Zillow  reported that rents in the U.S. increased by 4.2% over the last year. Increases were 5% or more in many major metropolitan areas including Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Detroit, Baltimore, Denver, San Jose and Charlotte.

4.) New Mortgage Regulations Will Be Announced Later This Year

Six regulators, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Securities and Exchange Commission, are currently drafting the new Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) rule. They will decide on two major requirements for buyers looking to qualify for a mortgage: minimum down payment and minimum FICO score. Many experts believe the new rules will be more stringent than current requirements.

 5.) Timelines Will Be Shorter

The dramatic increase in transactions caused many challenges to the process of buying or selling a home in 2012. We waited for inspections, dealt with last minute appraisals and prayed that the bank didn’t ask for ‘just one more piece of paper’ before issuing a commitment on the mortgage. There are fewer transactions this time of year. That means that timetables on each component of the home buying process will be friendlier for those involved in transactions over the next 90 days.

These are five good reasons why you should consider buying a home today instead of waiting.